Monday, 28 April 2014

Solar Panel installer breaks back in six metre fall (2011, just gone to court!)

A solar panel installation firm and its technical director have been prosecuted after an employee broke his back when he fell 6m through the roof light of a barn. James Hunt reports:

Christopher Morris from Woolston, near Warrington, aged 20 at the time, fell through a roof-light while installing solar PV panels on a barn roof for an Altrincham-based company called Alternative Energy Installations Ltd.

He sustained a serious back injury and spent 4 weeks in hospital. He has been unable to work since, and has suffered constant pain and depression since the incident at Norton Grounds, Daventry at the end of November 2011.

Ian Black of Denbigh, north Wales, a director of the firm and the site supervisor, has just been sentenced at Northampton Crown Court after pleading guilty at a hearing before magistrates in February last year.

Black, who was responsible for ensuring workers had adequate safety measures in place, was fined £7,300 and ordered to pay £6,700 in costs.

It turns out that Black had been aware that the barn’s roof lights were fragile, but he failed to put any measures in place to prevent falls, despite another worker asking whether they would be wearing safety harnesses, at which suggestion Black laughed, apparently saying: “What the **** do you want harnesses for?”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and prosecuted, with the result that – in addition to Ian Black’s fine - Alternative Energy Installations Ltd., registered with Hodgsons Accountants of Park Road, Timperley, Cheshire, was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £27,000 in costs after being found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Crawling boards and safety netting were subsequently used to continue the job after HSE served a Prohibition Notice ordering urgent safety improvements in the aftermath of the fall.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Peter Snelgrove commented: “This fall could have been fatal and was entirely and easily preventable. As it is, the incident has dramatically affected a young man, starting out in life, and he has not worked again since. He has been affected personally, emotionally and physically and has had to change his whole way of life. He will more than likely need to retrain and his loss of self-confidence has had a drastic effect on his social life.

taken from

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